'Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi' will boggle your mind

'There are grains of truth in each theory, but all the roads lead to the Vatican'

a vigil in italy in honor of emanuela orlandi
(Image credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi is Netflix's new addition to its true crime docket. 

Though the young woman vanished in 1983, the case is still one that grips the entire world nearly 40 years later, and sadly, remains unsolved.

"There are grains of truth in each theory, but all the roads lead to the Vatican," we hear in the documentary. Here's what you need to know about the puzzling mystery.

'Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi'

The four-part series is available for streaming on Netflix globally beginning October 20. Have a look at the trailer below—which is in both English and Italian—to get an understanding of the Mark Lewis-backed project, which interviews Emanuela's family and witnesses.

Emanuela was the daughter of a Vatican worker and last seen on June 22, 1983 in front of an Opus Dei church. Who was involved in her abduction? It depends who you ask—various secret services, the Italian mob, the KGB and the Vatican itself are but a few of the potential suspects people believe to be involved in her disappearance. 

Some suspect Emanuela's kidnapping was linked to Pope John Paul II's assassination attempt, and this was a way in which to get the shooter released from prison. The Pope himself begged for the young girl's release and spoke with the teen's family. 

Years later, in 2012, accusations were placed against the Vatican, stating it was "indifferent" about her abduction and possibly even kept secrets about the case, according to Rome Reports (opens in new tab). However, the Vatican claimed it was willing to participate in the ongoing investigation.

Of course, such a twisted story makes for the perfect true crime watch, a genre that only seems to be getting more and more popular (if the streamer's Jeffrey Dahmer series is any indication). 

"It’s a story that Dan Brown could have written," director Mark Lewis told Variety (opens in new tab). "It starts with a small local story of a young girl going missing on a hot summer afternoon in the middle of Rome in 1983, and then the story spirals into one involving the KGB and Cold War politics."

The creator of Netflix's other true crime sensation, the unsettling Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer, hopes this docu-series will get people reacquainted with the story and appeal to an international audience, with the hopes of finding answers. Ultimately, Lewis hopes this is something that can potentially put an end to the nearly four-decade-long mystery and provide the Orlandi family some much-needed closure.

"The way I see it is we have got a table, and over the years, we’ve been laying down big pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on that table," Lewis further revealed to Variety. "Slowly but surely, that puzzle is getting filled in. But there’s a few key pieces of the puzzle still missing. I hope, for the family’s sake, those last few pieces are found."

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 


The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.  


Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 


When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)